The last chapter in my brother-in-law's cancer journey was so gloomy I couldn't bear to blog about it: The tumors were winning, and all the bloodwork numbers were bad and trending to worse. The oncology guys suggested it might be time to stop treatment and enjoy the time he had left. The obstinately optimistic Dr. Bigwig wept. My sister, the ultimate stoic, told me, "We seem to be reaching the part that really sucks." There was, on top of everything else, a mystery blood clot that would have called for emergency surgery had it not been for the stage four cancer. "You could live with it for ten years, or it could kill you tomorrow," said Dr. Bigwig.
Zach said, "It's not my time to die yet." He chose his next chemo regimen, and then took his wife and kids to Disney World.
In the first of the Disney trip photos to arrive in my email in-box, my nieces wear princess-pink Mickey Mouse ears. They are snuggling up to some person in an enormous Jiminy Cricket costume, and they are beaming like it's the best day that ever dawned.
Jiminy Cricket got that "When You Wish Upon A Star" song stuck in my head. So I've been wishing on stars lately. Compulsively. All of them. When the day sky's too bright for wishing on the more distant ones, I wish on the sun. Why not? It does no harm, and makes me feel better.
Apparently it really wasn't Zach's time to die yet, because the chemo regimen that the oncology guys thought was mostly an exercise in regret management has halted the tumors and caused some of them to shrink a little bit. Dr. Bigwig tells Zach he's completely off the map. The conventional wisdom is that nobody lives 18 months with stage four cholangiocarcinoma. They've tried everything anyone's ever tried before, so now they get to do some wild on-the-fly stuff, along with more of that chemo regimen that worked. Nobody knows why it worked.
The Buddhist monks in their morning devotions? The almost-saint who might be about to commit to his canonizing miracle? Covens and Reiki masters coordinating their long-distance energy tranfers? Jiminy Cricket crooning that when your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme? Hey, all help is welcome help.
And to all of you who have remembered my family in your thoughts and prayers, many thanks.